The Ministry of Defense has declared that nepotism in the Army is normal.
According to a report at Prachatai, the Ministry “has defended the appointment of the junta’s leader’s nephew to an army post, saying that it is normal for the army to replace retired army personnel.”
We think the Ministry is not simply covering up. While there might have been some thought that someone would complain about The Dictator’s brother, General Preecha Chan-ocha handing his some an Army commission and salary, the Ministry really does think this is normal. It is normal because it is standard practice in the military. The top brass probably do it all the time, as Preecha has claimed.
Ministry spokesperson Major General Kongcheep Tantrawanich declared “that such appointments are necessary to maintain and improve the capability of the Thai Army.” Given the capacity of the Army for improving the incomes of officers, accumulating that unusual wealth in the family makes accounting sense.
Isara reported that such appointments occur via a process in which the authorities in the military issue job qualification documents in accordance to the qualifications of certain people connected to high ranking officials, ensuring that certain posts are reserved for well connected persons.
Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that General Preecha “the permanent secretary for defence, has come out to defend his son’s appointment as an officer in the 3rd Army amid allegations of nepotism.”
He claimed his son “had been properly recruited by the 3rd Army to fill a vacant post as civil affairs officer” and reckoned he had the right “qualifications for the job as he had experience working in public relations with the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) and he was a graduate in mass communication.”
He did not say how many qualified applicants there could have been if he hadn’t handed out the job to his son.
This is starting to sound like a cover-up. Maybe The Dictator is ticked off by Preecha’s initial truthfulness?
He had said he’d given it to his son. Preecha’s new story is one of process and procedure. Who does he think he is kidding?
Now he says all “[a]pplications for military positions were usually screened by a committee and it was his job as defence secretary to approve proposals made by the committee, as assigned by the defence minister…”.
He does not say that his boy went through this process.
General Preecha then made some remarkable claims: “that in fact his son did not want to be a soldier, but he had wanted him to take a military job because it was more secure than being an employee at PTT.”
His son doesn’t want to be an military officer. Preecha, who has a hand in running the country reckons PTT is insecure? Who does he think he’s kidding? PTT is one of Thailand’s largest companies, operates internationally and pays well.
He said he asked his son to apply when there was a vacant position.
Again, this seems like a claim that he didn’t simply give his son the slot, contradicting his earlier “it’s normal” statement about nepotism.
He adds that brother Prayuth “had no objection to him doing this [giving his son a job], as long as it was correct and legitimate.” He does not say if it is “correct and legitimate” to do the “normal” thing and give his lad a commission.
Getting deeper into the cover-up, Preecha re-defines his earlier statement of “normal,” stating that :[i]t is normal for children of high-ranking military officers to join the military when there are openings available.”
Who does he think he is kidding? That horse has bolted.
Furthering the cover-up, General Prawit Wongsuwan “told reporters he saw nothing wrong with the appointment.”
The pattern has been seen before: recall the initial statement of truth on Rajabhakdi Park – yes, there was corruption – and then the long, long cover-up that no one believes.